The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies sent a memorandum to President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi yesterday morning, Tuesday, August 26, 2014, expressing its concern for the negative direction taken by the Ministry of Social Solidarity, which contravenes the spirit and letter of the constitution and demonstrates hostility toward civil society.
The memorandum to the president comes after civil society organizations have exhausted all other available channels to express their concerns. These groups took part in more than six months of negotiations with the Ministry of Social Solidarity under former minister Dr. Ahmed al-Borai, at the end of which he submitted a new bill to regulate civic organizations to the Cabinet in February, in preparation for its submission to the incoming parliament. In a surprise move, however, the new minister of social solidarity disregarded the effort of the former minister and civil society and unveiled another proposed law on June 26, which flagrantly contravenes the spirit and the letter of the constitution. Closely resembling the proposed law put up for discussion during the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, the new bill aims to nationalize some 40,000 civil society groups and make them quasi-governmental adjuncts. Three weeks later, on July 18, the minister issued a warning to what she called entities operating in the field of civic work, threatening to dissolve them within 45 days.
On July 24, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb met with Bahey eldin Hassan, the director of the CIHRS during which Hassan presented a memorandum signed by 23 rights organizations demanding that the minister’s bill of June 26 and her warning of July 18 be withdrawn. Mehleb promised to meet with the signatory organizations within ten days to discuss their demands, but more than one month later he has not kept his promise. The memorandum sent to the president makes the same demands included in the memo to the prime minister.
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